According to Greenpeace, more than 100 million tonnes of plastic are produced every year and 10 million tonnes end up in the ocean. The EU has pledged to make all plastic packaging recyclable by 2030 and Zero Waste Scotland aims to recycle 70% of all plastic waste by 2025. Innovative packaging that is 100% biodegradable is key to contribute to the global aim of establishing a sustainable future. Researchers increasingly focus on seaweed-based packaging that is not only biodegradable, but edible. It is a great opportunity for Scotland to capitalise on this rising interest.
The untapped potential of seaweed packaging
Seaweed has enormous potential in the disposable packaging industry. Seaweed is cheap, easy to grow, harvest and extract, it is accessible on every coastline and is 100% biodegradable decomposing within 4-6 weeks. Ultimately, it is abundant: it is estimated that just 0.03 per cent of the brown seaweed in the world could replace all of the polyethylene terephthalate (PET) plastic bottles we get through every year.
According to the UK government, the global seaweed production has more than doubled between 2000 and 2014, ranging from 10 to 28 million tonnes of seaweed, which is worth $6 billion. 95 % of the global seaweed production comes from Asia. Recently, there has been an increasing interest in the UK to invest in commercial seaweed production.